Cal Humanities

"The understanding of a culture comes from hearing the language, tasting the food, seeing personal interactions, experiencing the traditions, and so much more in context."

— Elizabeth Laval & Candice Pendergrass, Sikh Youth Public History Project

"The understanding of a culture comes from hearing the language, tasting the food, seeing personal interactions, experiencing the traditions, and so much more when it is in context."

— Elizabeth Laval & Candice Pendergrass, Sikh Youth Public History Project

California Humanities Awards 21 Humanities for All Quick Grant Projects to Support Community, History, & Storytelling

SPACE Dancers, School of Performing Arts & Cultural Education, performing at ukiaHaiku Festival_Credit_ColterJacobsen

For Immediate Release 
Media Contact:  Kerri Young, Communications Manager, 

May 17, 2023—(Oakland, CA)— California Humanities is proud to announce that 21 new public humanities grantees will receive $100,220 in funding through the Humanities for All Quick Grant program. Their projects and public programming, from youth poetry festivals to oral histories, walking tours, workshops, and exhibitions, will provide rich humanities-centered learning experiences for Californians up and down the state.    

Many of the awarded projects in this grant cycle will shed light on underrepresented stories in the state’s history, from bike messengers to women in jazz to the artistic contributions of those from Eastern and South Eastern Europe. Others will provide a platform for youth artistic expression, such as UkiaHaiku Youth Outreach. This project will provide haiku workshops in Mendocino County schools, grades 4 through 12, as well as for formerly incarcerated and at-risk youth, with the aim of inspiring County youth to submitting and reading their entries publicly at the annual UkiaHaiku Festival on April 28, 2024.    

People sitting outside on picnic blankets and on picnic benches at dusk watching a film projected on a screen.
Echo Park Film Center’s public screening of short films by San Fernando Valley based artists at Cottonwood Urban Farm in Panorama City, June 2022. Credit: Echo Park Film Center.

Other projects shine a light on important community activism, such as “RED DRESS DAY.” Based in Seaside, California, this free event took place in May 2023 and provided a public space to raise awareness of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and Two Spirit People through moderated panels, an exhibit, music, and memorial ceremony. 

“California Humanities is honored to welcome our newest round of Quick Grant awards,” said the organization’s new President & CEO Rick Noguchi. “These projects will push the boundaries for not only how we understand and engage with our diverse array of California histories and cultures, but also provide a unique humanities lens for discussing pressing and important community issues.” 

The Humanities for All Quick Grant program is a competitive application that provides up to $5,000 to support small-scale locally initiated public humanities projects. See the complete description of awarded projects below. 

Projects Awarded Spring 2023 

In addition to continuing consideration of all eligible project applications on any topic, using any mode or format, and reaching any public audience, California Humanities designated three specific funding focus areas for Humanities for All Quick Grants: Youth Voices (denoted by “*”), Arts & Humanities (denoted by “+”). 

Art Is Healing: Indian Alley Film Screening and Panel Discussion + 
Community Partners, Los Angeles on behalf of Your Neighborhood Museum 
Project Director: Pamela Peters 

Multimedia Artist, Pamela J. Peters, will collaborate with Your Neighborhood Museum and United American Indian Involvement to screen the film “Indian Alley” in downtown Los Angeles. This program will be followed by a panel featuring Native American community members sharing how the US American Indian Relocation program impacted the urban Native community, and how art can be used for healing. Programming will include a photography exhibition of the Indian Alley murals. The event will provide the general public with a better understanding of culture and heritage preservation in an urban context and on the relationship American Indians have with the federal government. Programming will be presented in June 2023. 

2023 Beast Crawl Literary Festival* 
Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco 
Project Director: Paul Corman-Roberts 

The “2023 Beast Crawl Literary Festival,” will consist of 20-25 free one-hour literary/spoken word readings presented in over a dozen downtown Oakland-based independent businesses and community spaces. Readings will be curated from underrepresented and marginalized communities from across the Bay Area and the world, including the Oakland Youth Poet Laureate Program, the Creative Growth Art Center, Project 510, Youth Speaks, Pochino Press and many others doing this important work. Programming will run from July 20-23, 2023. 

Sites and Cycles of LA: Bike Messengers and the City + 
USC’s Institute for Diversity and Empowerment (IDEA), Los Angeles 
Project Director: Robeson Taj Frazier 

“Sites and Cycles of LA: Bike Messengers and the City,” is a photovoice project, exhibition, and panel discussion centering on the voices of bicycle messengers in Los Angeles. Messengers, couriers, and delivery riders are essential workers in today’s cities. Yet, they widely remain under-served and vulnerable: they work as independent contractors and at low rates, risking their personal safety. Messengers often remain unheard and invisible in the public sphere. Through a photography project, culminating in an exhibition and website, “Sites and Cycles of LA” will provide a platform to share their stories and experiences in the city of Los Angeles. Programming will run from May through September 2023. 

Danza de los Diablos de Santiago Juxtlahuaca + 
Independent Arts & Media, San Francisco, on behalf of ARTSCCC (Arts Contra Costa County) 
Project Director: Jenny Balisle 

This project will support the presentation of an Indigenous dance performance and oral history video documentation of the “Danza de los Diablos de Santiago Juxtlahuaca (Dance of the Devils of Santiago Juxtlahuaca),” group. Project co-leaders Felipe Gonzales and Alma Guzman, of Santiago Juxtlahuaca, Oaxaca, will lead this award-winning group and collaborate on this dance performance. The community participatory performance will occur in conjunction with the July 4, 2023 parade in Martinez. ARTSCCC will lead the project, document the group’s history, and facilitate a virtual community discussion. Almost 170,000 Indigenous migrants from the Mexican states of Oaxaca, Guerrero, and Michoacán (including Mixtecs, Zapotecs, and Purépechas) live in California.  

LindaVisions + 
Visual Communications, Los Angeles 
Project Director: Jason Tiangco 

Visual Communications will present, “LindaVisions,” a multi-part series that celebrates and considers the impact of Asian Pacific American cinema as a key ingredient in nurturing and sustaining ongoing socio-political and progressive movements. Set to take place in historic Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo between August and October 2023, the series will include curated film screenings and bring together filmmakers and past and present AAPI student activists as a means of bringing relevance of these works to newer generations of activists. 

Pajaro Valley Ohlone Indian Council, Watsonville
Project Director: Mary Ann Carbone 

Supporting Indigenous Communities Group (SICG) will present, “RED DRESS DAY: Raising awareness of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two Spirit People (MMIWG2S).” This project will consist of an interdisciplinary inter-tribal presentation and community gathering that will include: 1) A Memorial Ceremony for MMIWG2S; 2) A moderated Indigenous Women Speakers’ Panel; 3) MMIWG2S-concerned state legislators and tribal leaders; 4) Indigenous storytellers, drummers, dancers and singers; 5) Red Dress art exhibit. The event is scheduled for Saturday, May 6 from 11 am to 6 pm at Oldemeyer Center in Seaside, California, and is open to the general public while targeting underserved communities and youth. 

Seen and Heard: Bay Area Women in Jazz and Beyond + 
San Francisco Jazz Organization, San Francisco 
Project Director: Rebeca Mauleon 

In March of 2024, SFJAZZ will present “Seen and Heard: Bay Area Women in Jazz and Beyond,” a series of onstage panel discussions and performances highlighting the historic and contemporary artistry of Bay Area women jazz musicians. This program will explore the cultural and historical conditions that have made the Bay Area community a singularly welcoming environment, where women can live and create. Over four consecutive Wednesday evenings at the SFJAZZ Center’s Joe Henderson Lab, “Seen and Heard” will offer expert panel discussions complemented by live performances featuring leading women artists in the Bay Area jazz, blues, and Latin(e)(x) music scenes.  

Hidden History: Nathaniel Smith, First Black Settler on the Mendocino Coast + 
Kelley House Museum, Mendocino 
Project Director: Anne Semans 

“Hidden History: Nathaniel Smith, First Black Settler on the Mendocino Coast,” will comprise of two exhibits and two facilitated discussions, presented at the Kelley House Museum and the Mendocino Theater Company. This project will explore the life of Nathaniel Smith, the first documented Black man to settle on the Mendocino Coast in Northern California in 1850, and about whom little is known. Exhibits and facilitated discussions with the community, including students, will occur during March and April, 2024. 

Sites of Social Change: Youth-Led Walking Tours of San Jose * 
Silicon Valley De-Bug, San Jose 
Project Director: Leila Ullmann 

“Sites of Social Change” is a series of youth-led local history public walking tours that will tell stories about key sites, influential figures, and movements for social change in four historic neighborhoods in San José. Largely overlooked and understudied, these neighborhoods are home to communities who have long fought to preserve their culture and livelihoods. This project recognizes the importance of tending to those histories in the face of gentrification and displacement. It will increase public curiosity for and attention to history while equipping youth to shape the future of their hometown. The tours will be conducted asynchronously in August 2023. 

SOL + 
Invertigo Dance Theatre, Culver City 
Project Director: Chelsea Sutton 

Invertigo Dance Theatre’s “SOL” is a free, one-day community-driven storytelling initiative that will respond to the current time of climate crisis, to find connection at the intersection of environmental justice and dance. “SOL” will feature dance film screenings, panel discussions with Body Movement engagement, spoken word poetry readings by Indigenous and Latinx/e guest artists, and new live dance performances choreographed and performed by Invertigo. Programming will be presented in June 2023, in the Baldwin Hills Parkland and Conservancy. “SOL” seeks to cultivate an exchange exploring our relationship to identity, ancestors, and nature, with all performances created to celebrate the Solstice and help us find roots in our local land. 

The Audacity to Believe: Re-connecting Oakland to its History of Pioneering Education * 
Marcus A. Foster Educational Institute, Oakland  
Project Director: Arianna Morales 

In its 50th year, the Marcus Foster Education Institute will hold an exhibit to bring together the Oakland community to commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. Marcus Foster at the African American Museum and Library. The exhibit will run from July to November of 2023, highlighting Dr. Foster’s impact in Oakland and nationally as the first Black superintendent of a major US school district. The exhibit, opening reception, and following forums, all open to the public, will give youth and educators, following in Dr. Foster’s footsteps, the opportunity to share their tested ideas to improve their schools. 

SHSA Student Docent Oral History Revealed Project * 
Sierra Historic Sites Association Inc, Oakhurst 
Project Director: Paul Adelizi 

The project will reveal a hidden collection of historic resources by creating short videos using oral histories of firsthand accounts of figures such as Teddy Roosevelt, John Muir, and the local Indigenous community. The videos will be made by local students under the supervision of local historians and educators. Students will take a deep dive into past perspectives and actions of those before us, and will find that many topics are still relevant today. The videos will combine voice and historic images to make accessible and compelling media for a diverse and expanded audience. Project activities will run from May through August 2023, at the Fresno Flats Historic Village and Park in Oakhurst. 

Borderlands/Nowherelands: Stories of Art, Migration, and Resilience from South East Europe to Los Angeles 
South East European Film Festival, Los Angeles 
Project Director: Vera Mijojlic 

“Borderlands/Nowherelands,” is a series of film screenings, discussions, and performances that invite discussion about the artistic contributions of Eastern and South Eastern Europe—resplendent regions whose communities struggle with legacies of ethnic conflict, violence, and displacement. The series will be presented by SEEfest Los Angeles, a multi-ethnic arts platform that promotes cultural dialogue between California and South (Eastern) Europe. In collaboration with local colleges, cultural organizations, and artists, we will spotlight the contributions of immigrants from the SEE regions in Los Angeles, opening dialogues about art as a tool of resilience. Programming will run from fall 2023 through summer 2024. 

What is the role of arts and humanities in war and conflict? A keynote session on Ukraine at the 2023 Hi-Desert Fringe Festival + 
Project Sheba Inc, Joshua Tree 
Project Director: Miri Hunter 

The sixth annual Hi-Desert Fringe Festival will take place at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center in Joshua Tree, the weekend of May 19-21. Julie Anne Franko will give the keynote address on the evening of May 19, discussing the role of arts and humanities in war based on two decades of life as a performing artist in Ukraine. Ms. Franko will also facilitate community discussions on this topic on Saturday May 20 and Sunday May 21 as part of the Hi-Desert Fringe program of classes and seminars. 

Poetry to the People + 
San Diego Entertainment and Arts Guild, Rainbow 
Project Director: Michael Klam 

In partnership with the San Diego Public Libraries, San Diego Poetry Annual (SDPA) will conduct a series of online and in-person workshops, readings, and community events. This program seeks to foster poetry creation, publication, and performance opportunities aimed at San Diego residents whose voices and life experiences are not usually represented in the traditional cultural archive. By highlighting the value of expression and offering recognition to the experiences of the often overlooked, this project aims to counteract the devastating crisis of isolation and despair exacerbated by the pandemic to empower and connect at-risk populations to free cultural resources and opportunities. Programming will run from May 2023 through April 2024. 

Dia de Los Muertos Celebration 
Friends of Rancho San Pedro, Compton 
Project Director: Celeste Calabrisi 

The project is the Dia de Los Muertos celebration held at the Dominguez Rancho Adobe Museum in collaboration with the Semillitas Learning Community on November 4, 2023. This is a free public event that showcases the history and culture of this Mexican holiday through performances, food, and vendors, as well as offering children’s activities and tours of the historic Dominguez Rancho Adobe Museum. The main objective of this event is to decolonize and decommericalize the holiday, to take it back for the Mexican community while harnessing the power of culture to provide a safe, joyous event. 

Mestizaje Ventura County + 
Ventura County Arts Council, Ventura 
Project Director: Anna Bermudez 

The exhibition “Mestizaje: 500 Years of Meeting,” and the County of Ventura, will launch Hispanic Heritage Month, running from September through November 2023. Preservation of heritage and culture provides the focus for workshops and presentations. Public events will facilitate dialogue, education, and collaboration between local artists and Indigenous artists from Oaxaca. Sculptures integrating wood carving, feather art, weaving, tin art, goldsmithing, and oil on petate, incorporating animals, images, and concepts representative of Mesoamerican history comprise the exhibit. Venues include galleries, public spaces, theaters, educational facilities, and municipal buildings. The exhibit will be displayed at the Ventura Government Center, and locations throughout Ventura County. 

Stories of Us Gatherings – Building a Sense of Community Through Culture 
San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum, Escondido 
Project Director: Whitney Raser 

San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum will present “Stories of Us Gatherings,” cross-community, multi-disciplinary, public storytelling events that will fill important gaps in the county’s history by providing a platform for individuals to share cultural contributions and their unique personal stories. The project builds upon the museum’s existing cultural partnerships, with a special focus on San Diego County’s first peoples, the Kumeyaay Nation, and Luiseño tribes. It aims to increase the visibility of underrepresented community members and build a diverse, welcoming, respectful, and inclusive culture at the museum and beyond. Programming will run from May 2023 through April 2024. 

ukiaHaiku Festival Youth Outreach * 
North Coast Opportunities Inc, Ukiah 
Project Director: Colter Jacobsen 

The UkiaHaiku Festival is an annual celebration of the Japanese poetic form, haiku. UkiaHaiku Youth Outreach will provide haiku workshops in Mendocino County schools, grades 4 through 12, as well as for formerly incarcerated and at-risk youth. The aim of these workshops is to inspire County youth to submit haiku entries for the festival. The winning poets will be awarded gift certificates for a local bookstore and will have the opportunity to read their haiku publicly at the Festival to be held on April 28, 2024 at the Grace Hudson Museum in Ukiah. 

Music and the Language of Storytelling: A Paiute Storytelling Path to Traditional Ecological Wisdom + 
Left Coast Chamber Ensemble Inc, San Francisco 
Project Director: Matilda Hofman 

Left Coast Chamber Ensemble and the Peralta Hacienda Historical Park will present two days of public workshops and performances on language and music in the art of storytelling inspired by stories from Paiute country. By exploring the Paiute language and stories with native language specialist, Jefferson Greene, humanities specialist and storyteller, Susan Strauss and flutist Stacey Pelinka, we hope to connect Californians of diverse backgrounds in a common appreciation of the importance of local cultures and the humanities as a way of coming together to understand the issues that face all of us who are living on the land today. Programming will run from September through October 2023. 

Push, Pedal, Pump: Active Movement Through California Landscapes + 
Echo Park Film Center, Los Angeles 
Project Director: Nicole Ucedo 

“Push, Pedal, Pump: Active Movement Through California Landscapes,” is a three-part cinema series featuring films that highlight the vibrant and joyous culture of riding around in California be it in the waves or on the concrete, while also bringing awareness to the BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and female-led organizations working to make these activities more accessible. During the summer of 2023, film screenings, discussions and workshops in Santa Barbara, East LA and Long Beach will provide historical context, contemporary connections, and inclusive opportunities for community members to share and celebrate how surfing, skateboarding, and biking have created positive outcomes in their lives. 

California Humanities, a statewide nonprofit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities, promotes the humanities—focused on ideas, conversation, and learning—as relevant, meaningful ways to understand the human condition and connect people to each other in order to help strengthen California. California Humanities has provided grants and programs across the state since 1975. To learn more, visit, or like and follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  

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Youth dancers wearing forest green long-sleeve shirts and black pants performing for a crowd in a forested area outside.
SPACE Dancers, School of Performing Arts & Cultural Education, performing at the 2022 ukiaHaiku Festival. Credit: Colter Jacobsen.  

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